I guess the dust is still settling from the events surrounding Samuel’s birth and hospital stay. I did a big, hard thing today, but of course I hope that ultimately it will prove to be a good and healthy thing- I spoke with my pastor about us no longer being a formal part of Circle of Hope. I don’t want to go into my reasons for this too much online- in part because I love the community that is Circle and want to safeguard all the good kingdom-building Jesus is doing in their midst, and also I want to protect the memory of my (multiple) time(s) as a part of the community. Suffice it to say that one of the wonderful things about the way the Circle of Hope community works at being the church is that there isn’t a traditional church "membership;" rather folks make a covenant together about how they will mutually follow Jesus and build his kingdom. Kirsten and I have thus been "covenant members" since 1997. However, for a good long while after Samuel was born and after a series of events that I won’t discuss here, we’ve felt unable to keep up our end of things- to do our part to keep the covenant and the obligations that go with it. It got to a point where, for integrity’s sake, we needed to either begin doing so again (keeping the covenant), or ask to be released from it. Again, for several complex reasons, we felt that we simply could not do what would be needed to keep the covenant any longer, and so we will be moving on. We do this with a sense of peace about our ability to again imagine a future in a congregation- which I at least had no longer been able to do, which was particularly hard becuase, for example, we want Samuel to be "dedicated." We want to be a part of a faith community in which we can publicly proclaim our promise to raise him up in the way that he should go, and we want to receive the affirmation and support of a faith community that will help us do that. I don’t mean to suggest that the many good folks at Circle East and in the larger network couldn’t or wouldn’t have done that, but to do so would require an ongoing commitment on our part to be a part of that community that we aren’t able to make. Even so, I am reminded of all the many unexpected folks in Circle who loved us so well when Samuel was in the hospital, and by no means are we turning our back on them. We trust that those bonds of friendship and love can remain so long as we work at it.
In the meantime, we need to find a faith community in which we can experience some much needed healing, and we are in a transitional phase again of re-evaluating just about everything in our life, including where we live, as we struggle to acknowledge and follow Jesus through it all, trusting that he will keep making our path straight.
By the way, about the title of this post- ancient covenants were often made between unequal parties, and the seriousness of what was promised in the covenant was signified by cutting several animals in half and laying them in a row. The parties to the covenant would then pass through the pieces as if to say, "let this happen to me- let me be sliced in two- if I do not keep the covenant." Amazingly, then, when God first made a covenant with Abram in Genesis 15 he caused Abram to fall into a deep sleep and then God passed through the pieces. God was the guarantor of his covenant with Abram, and then with Israel, and then finally with all the world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Thanks be to God.